Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Fun


I have had this past week off from work, and have been trying to enjoy every minute of it. Some of the activities we have done included a weenie roast, Bee's baseball game, making homemade blueberry muffins, getting out the slip'n slide, making homemade slushies, visiting the Zoo, going to the movies, shaving my boy's heads, sleepovers, teaching Alexa to mow the lawn, visiting with friends, swimming, and much much more.
The Lalliss family weenie roast in my parents garden was to celebrate Eric visiting us from Oregon. It included lots of yummy food (and messy smores). As a joke, Kenn and I brought a circus peanut gelatin salad (a lovely little recipe we found on youtube by Jolene Sugarbaker- queen of trailer park cooking). The sad thing was the salad wasn't too bad and people actually ate it.
I decided to post a slide show for the weenie roast, but most of the pictures are kind of dorky and are more for my family to see themselves on my blog than anything else.
Click to play Family Weenie Roast
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I did want to also show some cute pictures of my kids during this past week.
My boys at the baseball game- the weather was perfect,
too bad every picture is Jake and Luke goofing off.
Alexa mowing the lawn for the 1st time
(one less job for parents to do- WooHoo).
Jake and Luke with their snazzy new haircuts.
Molly and Noah (Kristin's little boy) enjoying the swing set
Molly with her endless supply of otter pops and popsicles.
Kid's slumber parties in each other's rooms.

Too bad it's back to work on Monday :(

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thanks to the Male Genders in My Life

I am trying to have more gratitude for the good things in my life, especially for the people who have helped me become who I am. Since we just celebrated Father's Day this past week, I want to focus on a few special men (and boys) who lift me up each day.
Starting at the top of my list is of course my dad. What an awesome example of good work ethic. I have never seen any man work harder for family, friends, and neighbors than he does. My dad can build or fix just about anything; and if I need his help, he is at my side in a heartbeat. Even though my friends were always scared of him growing up (and I'm sure he scared off more than one boyfriend), I know he is really a big teddy bear and a goof ball at heart. Dad, I appreciate all the countless hours we have spent together weeding the garden, picking up rocks, building on the house, camping, weinie roasts, homework at the kitchen table, and endless family road trips in the non air conditioned truck. Thank you for the priesthood blessings, strong morals, and great example through my life. Thank you for holding my hand during Luke's birth when Kenn couldn't be with me. Thank you for treating my mom with respect. Thank you for being my dad. I could go on and on about how great my dad is, but I hope he knows how important he is in my life- Dad, I love you!!!!
Next of course I have to acknowledge my wonderful husband Kenn, who has sacrificed many of his dreams and hobbies for my education and successes. He is always the first to put off what he wants, so others can do what they want. Kenn and I always have a great time together whether it is playing in Disneyland, going out with friends, working out at the gym, or just hanging out with the kids. He challenges me intellectually, socially, politically and spiritually. Kenn, I am grateful that you took a chance on an immature 16 year old girl over 15 years ago. Thank you for taking me to the temple and making our marriage and family forever. Thank you for being a strong husband and caring father (for getting up in the night with kids, changing countless diapers, running kids around to games, and all the other things that a stay at home dad does). Thank you for sharing my same dreams and priorities (and for going along with all my dumb ideas like building on/renovating our house). I love you, I love you, I love you!!!!
Next on my list would have to be my two boys- Jacob and Luke. I have to admit when I first got married, I wanted an all girl family, but now I can't imagine my life without you. The spunk and energy you possess amazes me (and almost put me over the edge six years ago when you were just 2 and 1). I love your pictures and crazy stories, your inventions and craftiness. Thank you for being so smart and wonderful. Thank you for all the hugs and kisses. Thank you for reminding us to say our prayers daily. Thank you for choosing me to be your mom and for being a part of our family. I love you to the moon back, to infinity and beyond, a google, and so much more.

Of course I have to give a shout out to all my brothers (as dorky as they may be) who are constantly making me laugh (either at them or with them, I'm still not sure). Rick, Brian, Scott, and Eric, even though I don't tell you very often, I love you too!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Life is Precious

The world lost a wonderful, caring women this past week. Paula Clayville lost her 18 month battle with cancer. Even though the cancer ravaged her body, Paula kept her wonderful smile until the very end.
Paula was one of my mom's best friends, and a great influence in our family (and to everyone else who knew her). She just had a way of making everything right and good.
I know that Paula is now free of the pain she suffered, but my heartaches for those left behind:
- I pray for Rod and the rest of the family that they may be comforted during this difficult time. They are a strong family, and though it will be tough for a while, I know they will pull through this trial (they are such great people, yesterday at the funeral they were comforting me rather than me comforting them).
- I pray for my parents who have lost a close personal friend. My mother confided in me that whenever she was giving service to Paula (whether it was cleaning her house, helping her with daily cares, or just visiting with her), those were the only times when my mom was free from the knee pain she has been suffering from. I know Mom was doing what the Lord wanted her to do, so in return he was giving her the strength and relief she needed.
- I especially pray for my good friend Kristin who lost her Mother. To lose such an important role model is beyond my comprehension. It brings me to tears just thinking about not having a mother around to give advice, play with the grand kids, or to hold and comfort during times of need. I know Kristin is a much stronger person than I am, but I am also not blind to the fact that she will still mourn and ache for those lost moments. Kristin, I love you and know the Lord will be with you during those moments.

I often wonder why the Lord allows such awful things to happen to such wonderful people. I don't always understand God's plan for us, but I just have to put my faith in him because he knows the full picture. He allows these trials in ours lives to put us through the refiner's fire, to strengthen us to become better people.

To quote Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy,
"Our personal journey through life provides us with many special experiences that become building blocks of faith and testimony. These experiences come to us in vastly different ways and at unpredictable times. They can be powerful spiritual events or small enlightening moments. Some experiences will come as serious challenges and heavy trials that test our ability to cope with them. No matter what the experience may be, each gives us a chance for personal growth, greater wisdom, and in many cases, service to others with more empathy and love. As the Lord stated to the Prophet Joseph Smith in a reassuring way during one of his most significant trials at Liberty Jail, "All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good" (D&C 122:7). As experiences accumulate in our lives, they add strength and support to each other. Just as the building blocks of our homes support the rest of the structure, so too do our personal life experiences become building blocks for our testimonies and add to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."

It is life changing events like this that bring everything into prospective. It reiterates how important my family is, and how much I take for granted that they will always be here with me. I am trying my hardest not to take the small precious things in life for granted. Over the past week, I have tried to hug my family more, talked and played with my kids more, said I love you more, and appreciated life's experiences and yes even trials more.
As I have said before, I don't understand why God chose Paula and her family to have this trial in their life, but I am comforted in knowing that Paula is having a glorious reunion with loved ones that have already passed on. I know that our Heavenly Father will not leave us during our times of need. I am grateful that I know our purpose in life, and that I have Jesus Christ by my side, never to leave me stranded. It is this knowledge, and the love of the Lord that will buoy us up during our times of need.

We love you Paula- You will be greatly missed!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Major Changes on the Hair Front

Well we did it! Alexa and I cut off all our hair and donated it to "Locks of Love". Since I have never had a good experience with short hair before, I was more than a little nervous today (the one time I had really short hair was eight years ago just prior to giving birth; it was a cheap cut from Great Clips- lets just say I cried a lot during that time of life and it wasn't just post partum depression). Alexa wasn't so worried because she has donated her hair before, and enjoys a short bob.
I wasn't taking any chances for another bad haircut, so I actually wrote the local news stations to see who they recommended for hair makeovers. I was referred to a great girl named Mandi at Sanctuary Day Spa in the South Towne Mall. The haircut and color were pretty expensive, but worth every penny. Besides the fact that they provided scalp massages, hand massages, and VIP treatment, I am actually pretty pleased with the end result.
Here's some pictures of the fun we had today.

Here is the before picture of Alexa (you can refer to the prior post for my before picture).

This is Alexa getting her hair cut off (we each had 10 inches cut off).

This is a lovely picture of me getting my hair highlighted (I felt like a TV antenna with all the tin foil on my head).

The end product of Alexa's haircut.

The end product of Jolene's haircut.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

End of School, Baptism, and other Happenings

This past week has been a busy week in the Johnson home. Alexa, Jacob and Luke finished off the school year with field trips, end of school parties, field day in the pouring rain, talent shows (that parents weren't invited to), and Luke graduating kindergarten. The kids have really enjoyed their time at school, but I am looking forward to staying up late, playing at the pool, eating lots of popsicles and most of all NO HOMEWORK (don't get me wrong, I love reading to the kids and having them learn, but I feel like a lot of their assignments were busy work for me to help them do).
Saturday was an important day for Jacob because he was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Even though we hit a few bumps prior to the baptism (like Jake having a temper tantrum/melt down for some unknown reason), the rest of the day went off without a problem. It was extra special because Jake got to be baptized with his cousin Gavin. My mother gave a great talk about baptism, discussing the of purpose of baptism and the covenants we make with our Heavenly Father at that time. It reminded me today during sacrament meeting of the importance of those sacred ordinances.
Afterward we held a great party at my brother's AWESOME house. The weather and food were perfect and we had a great turn out. The only thing missing were 2 of my favorite brothers Scott and Eric. Here's a bunch of pictures of the eventful day.
Click to play Jake's baptism
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Other news in our household- Kenn and I have started the planning process to build an addition to our house. We have debated doing this for a long time and finally decided it was time to just go for it. We have now met with our architect and contractor and now just need to finalize our plans. Construction will probably begin mid July and last through October. We will almost double the size of our house, and finally have the long coveted garage we have always wanted but never had. For now we are starting to purge all the junk in our house, and I guess we will probably need to find a place to stay for a couple months during the construction (mom if you are reading this, we will probably hit you up for a couple rooms to stay in). Anyway I'm sure I will post along the way all the positive and negative things we will be going through in the coming months, and you can bet when it is all done we will be having a great big open house party with everyone and their dog invited.
One last note, these will be the last pictures of me with long hair. This Tuesday my daughter Alexa and I will be cutting off all our hair to donate to "Locks of Love". Stay tuned for further postings, because I will most definitely be posting pictures of that experience.